Supporting Sky throughout their journey to Total Talent Management

As one of Europe’s leading entertainment companies, Sky serves over 22 million customers across five countries. Employing more than 25,000 people across the UK and Ireland, Sky engages with all different types of permanent and contingent workers.

ManpowerGroup has partnered with Sky since 2010. We spoke with Alison Todd, Director of Talent Acquisition, regarding Sky’s approach to Total Talent Management and how their journey has evolved. We invite you to watch the video to see the full interview, or alternatively you can read an overview below.

What do you perceive to be the greatest challenges in attracting and retaining the best talent over the next five years?

There is a great deal of talk about attracting and retaining talent, considering such areas as wellbeing, purpose at work, work-life balance and the working environment. For me, there are three main challenges to consider:

  1. Making work meaningful, looking at how people fit in and what contribution they can make. It is managers who provide the context and culture to help their teams link the work they do to the aims or goals of the business – get this right, and you greatly increase your chances of retention.
  2. You need to give your employees the development they need, the opportunity to grow their skills and to stretch their experiences at work.
  3. Finally, you need to develop a positive working environment. While great offices and facilities are fine, fundamentally it’s good managers who are the key. Coming to work must be a motivating and rewarding experience for people. In terms of attraction and retention, if this is not right, they won’t stay. Externally, you need to be able to tell the story that sets your organisation apart. Candidates need to understand what it is really like to work for you. It’s about the give and the get. If your employer brand is in line with what potential candidates are interested in and what they want to achieve, their interest will be sparked.

How important do you feel a Total Talent Management approach is to dealing with future talent challenges?

At Sky, our approach is to put a strong engagement layer in place. Recruitment Managers work with HR Business Partners and with the business to enable us to understand the organisational challenges and, ultimately, to plan together. Recruitment has historically been seen as a reactive service but, to get ahead in the talent race, it is essential that we understand the total workforce needs for the short, medium and long-term.

The reason this is important for Total Talent Management is that the solution the business wants isn’t always the right one and we need that ‘expert’ layer in place to advise. This allows the right discussions to take place to ensure the business is taking the correct approach. It is challenging for suppliers to get under the skin of the business if they do not have that engagement layer and have been contracted purely to deliver on-demand.

Which solutions have you utilised throughout your partnership with ManpowerGroup and how are these supporting you in your journey to Total Talent Management?

Our core relationship is in support of recruitment in our volume permanent space and to meet all of our temporary resource needs. The permanent roles we hire are in Retail Estate, Contact Centres and Home Service, where we hire engineers to install Sky into customer homes. In total, we hire around 4,000 people per year into permanent roles.

We have found that there are different needs across these volume areas so we need to think differently to address these. One size does not fit all. Our core business recruitment is delivered as standard, however, in addition to this, we have worked with ManpowerGroup on a number of projects to solve the business challenges and work through how we can reach the people we need in the market, for example, women in Home Service.

On the temporary worker front, we have a long-standing relationship with Experis, who work with the business to meet our short-term professional and non-professional needs. Our Recruitment Managers and ManpowerGroup work with the business to agree the blend of temporary and permanent workers to optimise the hiring needs.

This brings us back full circle to Total Talent Management, where we don’t just respond to short-term, operational demands in the business. This blended approach is often required for innovation projects, where we need large numbers of people very quickly and this is where we will blend temporary and permanent hires.

What barriers have you faced in developing a Total Talent Management strategy within your organisation and how have you overcome these?

However organisations decide to meet their Total Talent needs, be that insource, outsource or a mixture of the two, there are barriers to making it work well. Communication must be seamless, but there are many things that can trip us up on the way.

The main barriers we have faced as an organisation are:

  1. Building a common understanding – If parts of the organisation don’t have a common understanding of what you are trying to achieve, you could easily travel in different directions.
  2. Lack of governance – Whatever the relationships are, if you lack good governance, there will be problems ahead. You might set yourself up well at the beginning, but you must nurture these relationships to deliver the strategy and continue successfully. This is particularly common where you mix the insource and outsource model. You may relinquish responsibility for delivery if you outsource, but the active nurturing of the relationship will get the best out of both sides.
  3. Lack of flexibility – If you decide to outsource part or all of the operation, or if there is a lack of flexibility and unwillingness to work with a fast-changing business, then the operation is likely to fail. Most businesses change frequently, as we do here at Sky, so you need to be adaptable and open minded.

To help address these challenges, I believe that if you set up formal mechanisms, create a strong governance structure, have a good plan and all stakeholders agree to the direction of travel, then you are set on a good course. You must have good connections with the business and, regardless of who provides the service (whether it’s in-house or outsourced), relationships are critical to understanding and responding to changes in the business.

What benefits are you seeing from taking a more holistic approach to your talent strategy?

Having an overview of all the types of talent we engage with provides a rich perspective in terms of the overall needs of the business. It gives us real context when we look across the whole business rather than just reacting to an individual demand. We can see synergies and identify where we can move talent within the organisation, rather than have people leave and new people come in. It is much easier to then decide – from the bigger picture – what roles we will need to go external for.

Working across the supplier’s broader capability can mean that we can flex resource in and out of different solutions. Our business needs change very quickly and our solutions need to be flexible. Clearly there are commercial benefits working at scale too.

And lastly, what tips and advice would you give those who are considering adopting a Total Talent Management strategy?

  • Listen to the business!
  • Create a solution that fits your culture and organisation.
  • Communication with the business is critical – before, during and after any transformation to a different approach.
  • Give yourself the chance to think before you dive in… another business’ solution might not be right for your own.

This article first appeared in the eighth edition of The Human Age Newspaper.